Taste a difference? 12 Genesee County communities switch to KWA water

GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (11/27/2017) - A switch in water source for 12 Genesee County cities and townships on Monday was met with surprise and skepticism.

The townships of Davison, Flushing, Genesee, Montrose, Mt. Morris, Richfield, Thetford and Vienna, along with the cities of Clio, Flushing, Montrose and Mt. Morris began drinking water from the Karegnondi Water Authority.

They represent about half of the communities around Flint switching from the Great Lakes Water Authority in Detroit.

If the switch goes as planned, Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said customers shouldn't notice a difference unless they have a refined palette taste subtle changes. Genesee County is using the same water treatment formula as the Great Lakes Water Authority.

"I personally don't believe that they will be able to taste a difference, but some might be able to that have a very sensitive pallet," he said.

The KWA water is pumped from Lake Huron along a $300 million pipeline to the $100 million Genesee County Water Treatment Plant in Lapeer County's Oregon Township before getting dispersed to communities in an underground labyrinth of pipes.

Dave, who lives in Flushing, said he wasn't aware the change was happening until an ABC12 reporter asked him about it.

Wright said the new water treatment plant has been operational since last summer while it undergoes tests. The plant had to meet strict cleanliness standards set by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and federal Environmental Protection Agency before it could serve customers.

Technicians at the treatment plant are required to conduct a battery of water tests multiple times every day.

But that's not enough for some people drinking water from the new system.

"I'll be honest with you, I'll probably get it tested," Erin Jurvis of Flushing said. "Make sure all the folks are doing what they're supposed to do and they did follow all the regulations."

She was concerned about costs trumping safety and sanitation in the treatment process.

"Water is a very important thing. It's a source of life," Jurvis said. "I believe that for the most part the government looks after us, but sometimes there's a lot of money involved and where there is money there is corruption, so that makes me wary."

The new KWA system and water treatment plant were constructed to bring stability to Genesee County water bills. Most residents say they'll be happy with the change if their water bills go down.

Residents in the city of Flint will continue drinking water from the Great Lakes Water Authority after city council members ratified a 30-year contract last week.

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